“Some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.” C.S. Lewis

chrissi&lunacompare1The Girl Who Wasn’t There by Karen McCombie

gwwt

Maisie doesn’t believe in ghosts…

But when she starts at her new school, there are rumours – of a long-gone girl who wanders the halls, Could this be the pale face, the whisper of white that Maisie’s spotted in the art-room window at night?

Together with her friend Kat, Maisie longs to learn more about the school ghost. Who was she? What happened to her? Then Kat comes across a photograph of something Maisie never expected to see…

Thoughts before you started reading The Girl Who Wasn’t There?
CHRISSI: I didn’t really know a lot about the book but I was excited to read it, given the synopsis and the lovely cover.

LUNA: I’d previously read Angels Next Door so I knew I’d enjoy this.

What did you think of Maisie?
CHRISSI: I thought Maisie was an adorable character. I easily warmed to her. I thought her friendship with Kat was incredibly endearing. Kat was a great addition to the story.

LUNA: I really liked Maisie, she’d a great narrator. You’re instantly on her side and want to continue reading just because of her.

Best bit?
CHRISSI: I really enjoyed the book as a whole. I thought it was engaging, fun and easy to read!

LUNA: For me the relationship between Maisie and her sister Clem was one of the best things about this book. It feels real, complicated and messy. They love each other but they don’t always like each other. Maisie’s sometimes the wise one, other times Clem really comes through but in the end they pull together.

Worst bit?:
CHRISSI: I found some parts a little predictable, but that’s only a slight criticism. It didn’t affect my enjoyment of the book at all.

LUNA: I thought it took quite a long time to find out what had happened to Maisie at her previous school.

Favourite character / moment?
CHRISSI: When Maisie’s worked out the truth about her friend’s story…

LUNA: Clem and Maisie’s dad’s dating was pretty entertaining. It’s nice to have a good father-figure in a book as I haven’t come across one in quite a while.

Was The Girl Who Wasn’t There what you expected?
CHRISSI: It was better than I expected. I really enjoyed it! A simple, but lovely story.

LUNA: It was, I picked it for Halloween because there is a ghost but I wasn’t expecting any frights. Karen McCombie gave me precisely what I wanted, a nice and sweet story.

Would you recommend it?:
CHRISSI: Of course!

LUNA: Yes

Previously reviewed by Luna: Angels Next Door


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Robin Talley photo lowresRobin Talley grew up in Roanoke, Virginia, writing terrible teen poetry and riding a desegregation bus to the school across town. A Lambda Literary Fellow, Robin lives in Washington, D.C., with her wife, plus an antisocial cat and a goofy hound dog. When Robin’s not writing, she’s often planning communication strategies at organizations fighting for equal rights and social justice.
You can find her on the web at www.robintalley.com or on Twitter at @robin_talley.

Luna: You can read my review of Lies We Tell Ourselves at the end of the interview. Short version: I loved it ♥ The book is amazing!

Why did you want to write Lies We Tell Ourselves?
The idea for Lies We Tell Ourselves originally came from a conversation I had with my parents. They were both in high school in Virginia in the 1960s when their schools were desegregated for the first time. As they described their memories of integration ― the school closings, the trepidation in the hallways, the isolation of the few black students ― I knew I wanted to read a YA book about it. Then I realized I wanted to write one.

Lies We Tell Ourselves was one of the YA books of BEA2014. There was so much positive buzz and the praise just keeps coming. What is that like?
BEA was so much fun! I’d ever been before and it was overwhelming, but everyone I met was incredibly nice and excited about books. It was such a cool environment to be in.

Luna: I met you at BEA and you’re really lovely. Thanks for signing my book.
Robin: Yay, thank you! :D

How do you feel about the different covers for the book, do you prefer one?
They’re both so different! It’s so funny, I didn’t even know there was going to be a separate cover for the UK edition until I saw it on Twitter one morning. I love the US cover’s yearbook theme ― I did a lot of research pouring over old yearbooks to learn about high school life in the 1950s, so that cover definitely hits home. My favorite thing about the UK cover is the spine, actually ― there’s a silhouette of Sarah on the front cover and Linda on the back cover, and on the spine, you see the two silhouettes facing off. I love that.

Best thing about being a writer?
The idea that people are actually reading about characters and ideas I made up in my head. It’s a very, very surreal concept ― and since this is my first book, I really haven’t adjusted to it yet.

And the worst?
The complete absence of free time. I have a day job in addition to writing, so I rarely if ever get days off. I’m always trying to squeeze in at least a few hours of writing in the evenings, and I usually write all day on Saturdays and Sundays.

When you found out you’d sold your book, how did you celebrate?
My then-girlfriend, now-wife and I went out to a bar with a roofdeck and drank a lot of cocktails.

Luna: My kind of celebration! :)

Do you ever re-arrange book displays in bookshops?
Oh, definitely. If I see an awesome book by an awesome author that’s shelved spine-out, I pull it out so people can see it!

Changing the subject, apart from writing what do you love doing?
We recently got a dog, and I quite love taking her on walks. Before we had her I thought walking the dog would be a chore, but it turns out it’s awesome to take a break for a few minutes and just stroll around the neighborhood, taking in the sights and sounds. I’d never normally do that if I didn’t have to, but now I’m always eager to take the dog out for a spell.

I’m giving you a free platform to talk about anything – GO:
OK! Here’s some advice on your holiday shopping this year. Instead of going out to stores and buying lots of stuff that your friends and family probably don’t really need, go online and Google the name of your city followed by “children’s charity.” Find a good organization working in your community to help kids in need. Make online donations to the charity in the names of your family and friends. Print out the confirmation page for each donation and tuck it into a holiday card, then write a message describing the work the charity does and how a gift made in your friend’s or relative’s name will now help the organization do more of that good work. Then, when people ask you what gifts you want this year, tell them the name of your favorite charity and that you want a donation made in your name. You and your friends and family will wind up with less unnecessary stuff ― and you’ll have made a difference in the world.

So what happens next?
My next book is coming out in fall 2015. It’s currently titled Unbreakable, though the title could wind up changing. It’s set in the present day and it follows a so-together-they-might-as-well-be-married high school couple, Toni, who’s genderqueer, and Gretchen, who’s a lesbian, as they’re separated for their first year of university. They’re such an established couple they think it’ll be easy ― but there’s a lot ahead of them that neither of them ever expected.

Luna: SO want to read this. Ideally now.

Quickfire Round

Tea or coffee?
Tea, but given my druthers, I’d prefer a mango smoothie.

What word describes you best?
Thorough.

living

click for Goodreads

The last book you read?
I just finished Matt de la Peña’s The Living, which is incredible.

You’re at the airport with a free pass to get on any plane – where would you go?
I’ve never been to Italy, but I’d love to see it.

When no one is watching do you dance?
No, but I sing to myself. It’s a good thing no one’s around when I do because I always crack on the high notes.

If you could, what would you want to ask your readers?
I’m always interested to hear how much people learned about school integration when they were in school themselves. The answers vary so much.

What superpower would you like?
Invisibility would be very convenient.

Have you got your own place to write or can you write anywhere?
I can write in most places, but I mainly write in my office, a tiny windowless room on the second floor of the house, with my cat asleep on my feet.

What’s the perfect cure to a bad day?
Good reviews always help!

And finally, what is the question you wish people would ask and never do?
No one ever asks me what I think about Mad Men. I thought I’d get Mad Men questions given that my book is set at the same time! I guess the cultural zeitgeist is over Mad Men by now, sadly.

Lies We Tell Ourselves Book Review

UK Cover

It’s 1959. The battle for civil rights is raging. And it’s Sarah Dunbar’s first day of school, as one of the first black students at the previously all-white Jefferson High. No one wants Sarah there. Not the Governor. Not the teachers. And certainly not the students – especially Linda Hairston, daughter of the town’s most ardent segregationist. Sarah and Linda have every reason to despise each other. But as a school project forces them to spend time together, the less their differences seem to matter. And Sarah and Linda start to feel something they’ve never felt before. Something they’re both determined ignore. Because it’s one thing to be frightened by the world around you – and another thing altogether when you’re terrified of what you feel inside.

Review: This book was one of “the” books of BEA 2014. That combined with the amazing praise I’d read online set the bar very high but Lies We Tell Ourselves didn’t just deliver it vaulted right over that bar. It’s one of the best books of 2014 and I would quite happily hand a copy to every person I passed in the street. Winning lottery ticket come on, we can do good things here! Seriously though, this is a book that needs be read.

I had to read Lies We Tell Ourselves in parts. The characters and the town might be fictional but what Sarah, Ruth and the other students encounter isn’t. I was angry, sad and so disappointed that this was reality in 1959 and most depressingly it still is. Maybe not as openly but there’s plenty going round. Ironically I got to listen to it first hand while I was reading Robin Talley’s book.

Robin Talley deserves to be complimented not just for the story but also for her writing and characters. I thought that both Sarah and Linda were completely convincing, they develop throughout the book. Linda has to disregard everything she was ever told growing up. Even towards the end Linda still has moments where I was rolling my eyes thinking: “really?” but those flaws make her more convincing.

Lies We Tell Ourselves is stunning!

Recommend it?

Sunshine Star

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18667769How did I get the book? Picked up at Teen Author Carnival NYC

Genre: Horror

Synopsis: Forgive us, Father, for we have sinned

Brooklyn Stevens sits in a pool of her own blood, tied up and gagged. No one outside of these dank basement walls knows she’s here. No one can hear her scream.

Sofia Flores knows she shouldn’t have gotten involved. When she befriended Riley, Grace, and Alexis on her first day at school, she admired them, with their perfect hair and their good-girl ways. They said they wanted to save Brooklyn. They wanted to help her. Sofia didn’t realize they believed Brooklyn was possessed.

Now, Riley and the girls are performing an exorcism on Brooklyn—but their idea of an exorcism is closer to torture than salvation. All Sofia wants is to get out of this house. But there is no way out. Sofia can’t go against the other girls… unless she wants to be next…

In this chilling debut, Danielle Vega delivers blood-curdling suspense and terror on every page. By the shockingly twisted end, readers will be faced with the most haunting question of all: Is there evil in all of us?

200words (or less) review: There is a warning on my ARC that says “For Mature Audiences Only”. The Merciless is pretty graphic in places so if you’re squeamish I don’t think this book going to be for you. Be prepared for plenty of blood and gore.

For me The Merciless was a good example of a teen horror movie on paper. The first twist being that instead of being chased by the scary monster the protagonist (Sofia) is actively, though reluctantly, participating in the exorcism/torture of Brooklyn. Who according to Sofia’s new friends needs rescuing from the devil.

Once you reach the part of the book where the five girls are locked inside the abandoned house the story really gets going. The pace is steady, there are some rather stomach churning moments. It’s vivid, dark and you know it’s going to end badly.

You’re easily swept away by The Merciless, I read the book in one sitting. As a horror-slasher it works but I would have liked a stronger connection with Sofia for the ending to really have that shock impact.

Recommend it?

Yes

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20708754How did I get the book?
Picked it up at BEA

Genre: Horror / Paranormal

Synopsis: #EvilLibrarian He’s young. He’s hot. He’s also evil. He’s… the librarian.

When Cynthia Rothschild’s best friend, Annie, falls head over heels for the new high-school librarian, Cyn can totally see why. He’s really young and super cute and thinks Annie would make an excellent library monitor. But after meeting Mr. Gabriel, Cyn realizes something isn’t quite right. Maybe it’s the creepy look in the librarian’s eyes, or the weird feeling Cyn gets whenever she’s around him. Before long Cyn realizes that Mr. Gabriel is, in fact… a demon.

Now, in addition to saving the school musical from technical disaster and trying not to make a fool of herself with her own hopeless crush, Cyn has to save her best friend from the clutches of the evil librarian, who also seems to be slowly sucking the life force out of the entire student body!

From best-selling author Michelle Knudsen, here is the perfect novel for teens who like their horror served up with a bit of romance, plenty of humour, and some pretty hot guys (of both the good and evil variety).

Mini review: I pretty much loved Evil Librarian from the first page. Why? Because the writing is engaging and funny but most of all – Cynthia. Cyn for short. She is the ideal narrator. Cyn provides an ongoing commentary on everything around her and there will be times you’ll struggle not to laugh out loud.

Michelle Knudsen has a great balance between the danger Annie is in and the fact that Cyn still has a musical to be technical director for. Add to this that the plot isn’t predictable, great characters (not just Cyn) plus the writing, pacing and have I mentioned the humour yet? :)

In short Evil Librarian is a highly entertaining, witty, brilliant read. So go read it.

Recommend it?

Absolutely

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17261579How did I get the book? Netgalley, thank you Capstone Young Readers

Genre: Mystery / Paranormal

Synopsis: Make him pay, Bayley. Make him pay.

It’s as if the wooden chest is luring me, urging me to open it – daring me almost. Open me up. Look inside. Come on, just for a second; it won’t hurt.

Celina O’Malley was sixteen years old when she disappeared. Now, almost forty years later, Bayley is sleeping in Celina’s room, wearing her clothes, hearing her voice. What does Celina want? And who will suffer because of it? A ghost story. A love story. A story of revenge.

200words (or less) review: Bayley’s family has moved into an old family home, the house left abandoned for nearly forty years after Celina went missing. The family tragedy isn’t talked about so Bayley doesn’t know a lot about her relative. The wooden chest with Celina’s clothes proves too hard to resist and as Bayley wears them she begins to know things about Celina she couldn’t possibly.

Portraits of Celina wasn’t as haunting a story as I anticipated, the mystery behind Celina’s death is straight forward. The story is more about Celina’s quest for vengeance. Slowly Bayley begins to loose herself in Celina while her own family continues to crumble around her.

I imagined Celina’s hold on Bayley to be darker and more twisted based on the blurb but while the book is intriguing it didn’t cause me any sleepless nights.

Overall I enjoyed the book and I would recommend Portraits of Celina for those who enjoy mysteries with a paranormal twist.

Recommend it?

Yes

Expected publication:
April 1st 2015 by Switch Press

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Stacking the Shelves #78

Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga’s Reviews. It’s a chance to show what books you’ve added to your library in the past 7 days. These can be bought books, borrowed, review copies, any which way they come to you.

For Review

The Head of the Saint by Socorro Acioli
The Rise and Rise of Tabitha Baird by Arabella Weir (read)
The Perfectionists by Sara Shepard
Breakdown by Sarah Mussi
Thank you Hot Key Books

Snow Blind by Christopher Golden (read)
The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith
via bookbridgr, thank you Headline

Happy Hooves Oh! Oh! Oh! by Anna Bogie and Rebecca Elliot (read)
thank you Fat Fox Books

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The Fire Sermon by Francesca Haig
Thank you HarperCollins

From StorytellersInc

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Goth Girl and the Fete Worse than Death (Goth Girl #2) by Chris Riddell
Singed Copy, Chris Riddell was at Storytellers on the 29th Sep. He’s brilliant.

And in support of #booksaremybag :D

How To Be a Heroine by Samantha Ellis
The Ghosts of Heaven by Marcus Sedgwick (read, it’s amazing!)
The Guest Cat by Takashi Hiraide
Mountwood School for Ghosts by Toby Ibbotson
The Golden Day by Ursula Dubosarsky
Five Children and It by E. Nesbit
Five Children on the Western Front by Kate Saunders

Netgalley

A couple of months ago my kindle fried. The connecting port melted/fused, so while the device was ok there was no way to charge it. Bye bye eGalley’s. :(
I haven’t replaced my kindle but it does kinda very slowly charge. I was going to stay away from Netgalley but haven’t completely succeeded. Below are the books from the last 2 months, some of these I requested before it broke.

A Girl Called Malice by Aurelia B. Rowl (by Invitation)
A Little Something Different by Sandy Hall
Unteachable by Leah Raeder
Soulprint by Megan Miranda
The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma
The Jumbies by Tracey Baptiste
When by Victoria Laurie
Alistair Grim’s Odditorium by Gregory Funaro
The Ship by Antonia Honeywell

What books have you added lately?

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snowblindHow did I get the book? bookbridgr, thank you Headline

Genre: Horror

Synopsis: Twelve years ago the small town of Coventry, Massachusetts was in the grasp of a particularly brutal winter. And then came the great storm. It hit hard. Not everyone saw the spring. Today the families, friends and lovers of the victims are still haunted by the ghosts of those they lost so suddenly. If only they could see them one last time, hold them close, tell them they love them.

When a new storm strikes, it doesn’t just bring snow and ice, it brings the people of Coventry exactly what they’ve been wishing for. And the realisation their nightmare is only beginning.

200words (or less) review: In my quest for finding that spine-tingling horror read Snow Blind caught my eye. The premise sounded enticing and the beginning of the book certainly worked.

I’m going to say now that Snow Blind did not have me reaching for the covers to hide behind. It’s an intriguing and gripping read and yes I enjoyed myself but it’s not going to leave lingering nightmares. Maybe reading this book with the snow falling outside would unnerve you more…

With so many characters to follow it would be easy to get lost but I thought that Christopher Golden had a good balance between giving the reader enough to care about their fate without effecting the pacing of the book.

There are (what I call) cinematic scenes in the book. The ones you can picture vividly on the big screen with dramatic music. Having been a bit on a horror reading binge I’ve come across these a few times in the genre but they only really work when the writing pulls it off, Christopher Golden’s does.

Recommend it?

Yes

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